Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Apple a Day Keeps PC Codes Away


Ray from New Orleans wrote in regard to my post 256 hours:
"Many of us in the U.S. and in France have switched over to Mac's. It also interfaces nicely with our iPhones. The new cars in the U.S. now come with a jack in the radio. You can plug in your iPhone and listen to live radio from Denmark (in Danish, of course), as you drive to work. (My partner is Danish and does this.) The iPad is coming out next month.
The Apple stock is going wild (up). And everyday more people are getting tired of all the code that's required for a PC vs. an Apple product.
Still, as we say-- to each his own :-)
Ray Ruiz in New Orleans"
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

256 Hours to Go


I downloaded and installed PC Mover after doing back-ups of my mailboxes, a complete deep virus scan, and making sure my disks were defragged. I started the program up and was ready to go. I had bought a 1TB external hard drive for this operation.

All went well, but for some reason tech support said that I had include the D and E drive on the computer in the migration. I cannot see why if it is only the C drive that is being reformatted, but I included them anyway.

The program started, calculated the space needed, said that the files were going to be really compressed and then went to work. Estimated completion time would be 268 hours (eleven days and 4 hours). Two hundred and sixty-eight hours? I thought it was a joke or one of those estimate high and come to reality after time goes on. Well, after the program ran for twelve hours, it had only processed 19 gigabytes of data and was showing 256 hours (ten days and sixteen hours) left yet. I knew I had 700+ gigabytes on the 3 drives, so this could be on target. The bad thing is that you cannot operate the computer during this process, so it is time wasted. 

After the twelve hours, I stopped it. I am transferring all of the data from the two internal drives onto the external disk and then starting again. Maybe I can get it down to less than a week.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Savings, Save Money, Coupons, Wow!


I subscribe to a number of geek newsletters, computer related and most of the time I get to skim them. One newsletter that I really enjoy is CRENK. It relates back to a blog, which I hardly ever read, because he puts all of the juicy stuff in the newsletter. I think the writer is from one of the Scandinavian countries; he mentioned it once. His English is not always 100%.

A new item that caught my attention was a site called Savings dot com. They boast 5,700+ online stores that have coupons for savings. This is only good for the States, but there are times when I order things in the States for others to bring over. It is a great idea and as I browsed, there were some substantial savings for some of the online stores. Others are hit and miss, but if you clip coupons from the Sunday paper, you never need all of them do you?

My Windows 7 Ultimate trial version is going to run out in 9 days. After that, the computer will start shutting off every 2 hours without warning and what you are working on will be lost. I had purchased a program called PC Mover for the kitchen computer. It saves all of your programs and settings and re-installs them after you do in in-place install or a reformatting. I was dubious, but it worked like a charm after upgrading that computer from XP to Windows 7 Home version thanks to Jim Kipping. However, for main computer, since it runs the Windowsrelease candidate. I was able to find the Pro here in English.  Home Server, I was told by many that I should go with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. The Ultimate was more program than I needed and I did not see any great advantages from the last

Thinking that PC Mover was such a piece of software the last time, I decided to buy it again. Yes, they have it locked so you can use it once only with no cheating. Anyway, the version I needed this time was different since I already had a version of W7 on the computer with the benefit of XP. I was already to spend the $79+ for the program. It was cheaper than the booze and drugs I would need to ingest while replacing all of my programs with their ridiculous codes, keys, serial numbers, and what-have-yous.

There I was at the check out screen staring at the $79.00 thinking how unfair it was, when the advertised price was $59.00. The added amount was VAT or that other ugly word - taxes. Before I clicked the button to move the sale forward, I thought I would try something. I did not have to enter my home address. There was nothing to deliver, but I did have it there for the credit card billing. All of my cards except for Capital One have Hungary as my home address. Capital One refuses to allow an out of the US address. I switched my credit card from Visa to Capital One. Suddenly, magically, my total dropped to $59.00. 

Then I started thinking about and their coupons. I could not find a coupon for PC Mover, but I Googled it. Sure as shoot'in, I found an online coupon for $15.00 savings if used before March 1st. I copied the code, put it in the "If you have a coupon, put it here" box (a good clue that coupons are out there). My new total was now $44.00.

This is something I will remember to keep in my bag of tricks! The best part is, I did not have to live in the US to get the discount either.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

We Made a Bid


I am an impulsive person, I will admit it. However, 98% of the time, my instincts are right on target. A couple of years ago, I talked about taking money out of the pension fund to invest in more property here. Ron did not want to do it. When the economic crash hit, we were hit hard. As I graze through the listings for homes in the Fort Lauderdale area, not necessarily the city itself, I have been saving those that look promising, skipping over others.

Each day, I get a number of alerts from different Multiple Listing Services with new offers on the market or showing the ups or downs of asking prices. As I was looking over one such offer the other day, I noticed a "You may also be interested in this" along the right hand column. It was not a property officially listed with the service sending out the e-mail, but was part of MLS. I clicked on it and was immediately intrigued. What I found was a short sale condo already approved by the bank for $74,000. The buyer had backed out after finding other properties and the contract needs to be rewritten. It is 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths, full covered balcony, 1,200 square feet (about 111.5 sq. meters). The complex has a swimming pool, tennis court, and gym. What it needs is a complete repainting and appliances: fridge, washing machine, dryer. It is in Pompano Beach.

It seemed prudent to discuss this with the listing agent, avoiding the time of going through Larry who would have to contact her anyway. Since yesterday, she (Linda) and I have had over a dozen e-mails. She answered every question almost immediately. She did check on the rentals in the complex. The two bedroom units are renting for $1,000 to $1,200 a month. Her best guess is that this being a 3 bedroom, it will get more, plus it has a dedicated detached garage. It is 15-minutes to the beach.

Mike the guy who offered his services, lives in the area, checked out the address and gave us a thumbs up. He said the area is one of the better ones. His partner is a retired social worker from NY. We threw our hat into the ring, which does not seem too competitive at the moment. This may be it!!

Our fingers are crossed!!
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Friday, February 19, 2010

And the Real Estate Beat Goes On


In this educational journey of buying property over the Internet, there have been many twists and turns. The Realtor that Mike had referred me to was very pleasant and accommodating for about a week, but then turned. He changed personalities so fast, a schizophrenic would be impressed. Suddenly, he felt we should come live there and rent for a few years before buying anything. Standard reasoning should be clear that if you are paying rent, you are not saving money for your down payment. That aside, he totally by-passed the fact that I said we were looking for an investment until we were ready to move back to the States sometime in the future. This felt like a brush-off because it was just that. Time to move on to Istvan's referral.

I e-mailed this Realtor Larry. gave him the lowdown on what we wanted, where we were at mentally and geographically, and asked if he could/would assist. He immediately arranged for a phone call to discuss things further. We spoke, he said he could help and signed us up for e-mail alerts on properties that came in through his agencies listing services. I was feeling heard and helped. I told Larry how much money we had in cash to buy a place. There were dozens and dozens of places within our range, but he suggested we still try to pre-qualify for a mortgage so that we don't use up all of our cash. He put me in touch with a loan officer at Bank of America. B of A is my secret nemesis, but we do have our checking, savings, and money market accounts with the CA B of A and we had our CA mortgage through them, making this a logical way to go.

The officer Larry referred us to, Peter, is a Platinum Member of B of A's corp of loan officers, the top 5% of the entire corporation. Shiny objects distract me and gain my attention, so Platinum was shiny enough to get me excited about working with Peter. After e-mailing Peter, he responded within a couple of hours. He immediately brushed me off, misreading my e-mail thinking we had no US income at all. Trying to keep my B of A contempt under control, I politely wrote back pointing out the error of his reading. Now understand, we only want a mortgage up to $30,000. It is not like we want to finance 75% of a property. We are just looking for a bit of cushion in case a really hot property comes along that is over our cash threshold. 

First Peter did not know if he could underwrite a loan for Americans living abroad. This took a couple of days and he found he could if we had sufficient US income. Well, I have no US income and our foreign income is not acceptable for US banking standards. Then we found out that the rules for giving loans to US citizens who are living abroad has changed in September 2009, not in our favor, of course. 

After Peter did much investigating, I had to scan and send off Ron's last two tax returns and copies of his 1099s for his retirement and Social Security as well as the evaporating pension fund. I included copies of our B of A bank statements, because I thought they were pretty damned impressive, but obviously not so. Peter wrote back stating that he could not run my credit report without any US income making it totally dependent on Ron. Now here is the glitch. Ron needs to have three open lines of credit to fully qualify. The problem here is that before we left the States, I paid off all of our credit cards and cut up most of them to avoid having debt. Ron still has a B of A Mastercard that he has not used in years and a Diners Club card. Ron's two cards are not enough according to Peter. After some pushing, he agreed to run a credit check anyway. We had a mortgage with B of A up until just five years ago. Ron had his truck loan through B of A. This idea that you have to be in hock up to your neck in order to borrow money is why our economy is in the shape it is in. 

We are waiting for the verdict, but it is not going to ruin my day either way. I can go either way. A mortgage will help Ron's Federal taxes, but being able to pay cash for a place and not having any big debt is are dream come true also.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just Blame It on Ray


My life has taken major twists and turns in the last few months and it is all Ray's fault. Who is Ray? Ray is a reader of the is blog, who have become an intermittent e-mail penpal. If you search for Paris or Nice, France within the blog, you will find Ray. The topsy-turvey started when Ray mentioned that after selling their Nice apartment, he and his partner bought a place in Fort Lauderdale. Note that Ray owns a B and B in New Orleans. Their apartment purchase started my gears to working. When the economic meltdown happened in the US, we thought of buying a place in Boston. Ron even contacted a number of real estate agents checking on what was available. Not one had the courtesy of responding, so it went by the wayside. 

When Ray mentioned their acquisition, it started me thinking again. We have no real permanent address in the US. We use my father's address, but now that he is in a nursing home, that address is not going to be any use to us any longer. Neither of us have a driver's license any longer. After extending our CA license through the mail as many times as possible, we finally let it go. Ron tried to get an Iowa license when visiting last year, but it required too much documentation to make it happen. 

Each winter, we take off for a warmer climate for a month and have for the last twelve years, so thoughts of potentially living in a warm climate when we do decide to return to the US seemed like a no-brainer. Ray just happened to mention that there was another apartment for sale in the same building that they bought theirs and sent me the link. Just from looking at the pictures, I knew this was something we should pursue, so I made a list of pros and cons and presented it to Ron. With the pros far outnumbering the cons, we were in agreement. 

As it turned out, the real estate agent for the property was not as responsive to my e-mails and I have little patience with what I perceive as poor service. I also wanted to learn more about the area and Google is my friend. I found a number of social organizations where we could easily fit in and have the opportunity to create a sense of community quickly when we chose to make the States our home again.

Wanting someone on the ground with their finger on the pulse of things, I sent an e-mail to two of the organizations I found. After explaining where we lived, what we were looking at and looking for, I asked if anyone would be willing to correspond and give some direction as we moved forward. 

Two very nice men wrote back. One was Mike Golan who also referred me to a Realtor and the second gentleman, was Istvan Belucz, a Hungarian who was now living in Florida for the last six years. He too referred me to a Realtor. Using Mike's referral first, because he was the first to respond, his Realtor told me that the property Ray has put me on the scent of was a short sale property and then gave me this real estate lesson:

Now, there is an arena permeating throughout Southeast FL: the Short-Sale and Foreclosure syndrome (actually across the USA to which you must have heard about it in the news abroad).  This is quite an education and I will try to give you a crash course on it.

A Short-Sale is when a person bought a property about 3 to 5 years ago at the highest price of the market (say a condo at $300K) and the buyer took an exotic balloon mortgage at 1% interest for the first 2  or 5 years then the interest balloons up to 8, 9 and even 10% afterwards.  The intent was for those people to fix the property and flip it but, what happened is the market began to tank and those people missed the market.  Now their balloons have exploded and their loan payments jumped from $600K per month to $3,600 per month.  So, now they bought a house at $300K, owe about $240K but the present market value for their property is now only $175K.   So, if they sell their properties at present market value, they will need to come up with $65K cash, which, of course, they don’t have.  At that point, you ask the lender(s) to forgive the difference and close the property.  Some other people need to make a move, for whatever reasons (a job transfer or the house is too small because they have a new addition to the family) so they are also in the same financial predicament and need to do a Short-Sale.  However, in a Short-Sale situation, the lender does not own the property, so an offer has to be accepted between the buyer and the present owner.  Then, the contract is submitted to the proper lender(s) (often time there are a first and a 2nd lender).  The contract will sit at the primary lender’s desk for an undetermined amount of time (usually 2 months) until they get to it.  If there is a second lender, that will lengthen the process because the second lender will try to get something back to recuperate some losses – the battle between them begins.  After 4 to 5 months, they will give us an answer saying that they probably want more or else.  Again, usually the buyer will not go up and walks away from the deal.

A foreclosure is quite different:  In a foreclosure instance, the primary lender is now the bona fide owner of the property after having been awarded the right of ownership by a foreclosure judge.  The second and/or 3rd lenders are completely out without a penny.  This allows the lender to hire a real estate agent, place the property for sale and entertain offers.  But the catch to that is that the lenders have been inundated by so many foreclosures in the past three years that they have finally figured out how to sell those properties.  They have created what I call a “blind auction” which means you make an offer at the full asking price, then the lenders respond back in a few days saying “we have had multiple offers and you need to came back with you best and final offer” (there is no way for anyone to verify that.)  People tend to bid up and often times, they may be bidding against themselves.  Right now, the proof of that is when they close; we can see what the asking price was and how much they closed for.  Don’t get me wrong, there are foreclosures that take forever to sell or that will be sold at substantially less than the asking price but there is a reason for that: everything is relative to location and aesthetic.  Those properties that are sold at much less than the lenders asking prices are because they are dumps and no-one wants them.

Doing short-sales is quite tedious a process and it takes time. Often times, one can find quite a treasure in a foreclosure but, you kinda have to be here for that and when it strikes you, you need to make an offer immediately without flinging and be prepared to go higher than the asking price.

Forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes. I was getting an education in a whole new area.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If You Had a Problem


If you have had a problem scrolling down, it was due to some unnecessary coding that found its way into one of the posts. I am putting it here, so I don't have to hunt for it again if it happens again. The scrolling issue should be resolved now.

style type="text/css">body,html { overflow-y: hidden; overflow-x: hidden;}< and > at each end when the problem arises.

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My Brother the Actor


I don't hear from my brother all that often, but I happened to be looking at Facebook and saw some notes he posted about acting. I was curious and asked him about it. This is his reply. I am really excited for him.

Okay so I was laid off in October and kinda took it easy for a couple weeks, doing some small projects at home. Stuff I never had time for when I was employed. Anyway, I spiffed up my resume and started the job hunt. Not overly serious at first because I didn't want to appear desperate. As time went by I started feeling more and more anxious. After the holidays and after talking with colleagues who were out of work longer than me, added to the fact that I wasn't getting any calls back, I officially became desperate.

Somewhere around mid January I said screw it. I'm going to look in other areas. I thought, I worked at 84 Lumber, I sold kitchens and baths, I was in management at McDonalds. I could do any one of these things again. I got discouraged when even these types of places weren't calling me back either. Then I saw an add for movie extras. That sounds cool, I'll get paid for standing around or walking on a sidewalk or something. I sent my resume and they called me back the next day, we made an appointment for an interview. They turned out to be a talent agency. I liked what they had to say so I went out and got head shots taken and I signed up for acting classes.

The agency called me that night to ask if I could go to Connecticut for an HBO special they're filming. They turned out to have enough so I didn't go. The following Friday they called me and told me they got me on Ugly Betty and to call the casting director for instructions. I worked that on the following Tuesday, Groundhog day. It was a lot of fun and I decided that - Hey, I could do this for a living! It wasn't hard work...took 14 hours but Hey I'm on film now! The other extras told me about websites that you could sign up for to get alerts for when parts become available within your profile stats. So I signed up with a couple.

Then I got a call from the agency this past Friday morning asking me if I wanted to do a movie in Spanish Harlem later that afternoon. I agreed and was up there in a little over an hour. Bumped into Geraldo Rivera. BTW, I literally bumped into America Ferrara a.k.a. Ugly Betty during filming. Anyway, I was just a background actor in "Miracle in Spanish Harlem" 5 hours of work. While I was on set I saw an email on my Blackberry from another casting director in need of extras for a movie they were shooting in Queens the next day, Saturday. I replied that I was available and she sent me all the details - wardrobe, times, etc. and asked me to confirm if I'd be there. I confirmed and the next morning I was out and on my way to Queens with my business suit, an overcoat, and another business type change of clothes. We went from 11am to around 8pm-ish. This one I got a lot of on camera time. They gave me the role of a boss in the office and gave me my own office with a secretary.

That was very cool, I had 6 on camera scenes - no speaking though, just working around the office while the two main characters did their lines. That was fun.

Then last night I auditioned for a company that grooms talent for a week long talent fest down in Orlando twice a year. They have connections with and invite all the Hollywood studio people, not their assistance but the heads of casting and talent searches themselves. It's sort of a showcase of talent and at the end if people like what they see they call you back for interviews, work, contracts, etc. They say if you get a call back they are interested in working with you. Well, I really thought I blew it, I was so nervous, shaking, quivering, etc. There were over 200 people there and they said they were only choosing 20 - 25% to come back and talk about career paths. Like I said I thought I blew it and came home and broke the news to Coll and said "okay, next"! Then this morning I got a call asking me to come back because they liked my audition and they think that I have marketability. You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was shocked. So we went there today and they signed me up to work with them, to be groomed by them, and to learn what I need to know to be successful in "da business". Also, they will coach me and get me ready for the showcase in Orlando, either in June or January. It's all very exciting right now.

I will keep you posted on how things go. I have an orientation with my new group on the 27th of this month.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Flow of Consciousness - It All Comes Back to Hungary


Flow or stream of consciousness is the continuous flow of ideas, thoughts, and feelings forming the content of an individual's consciousness. The term was originated by William James. Today it is used both as a psychological term and as a literary term and technique. Here is my stream of consciousness. Follow me on my journey of a few hours time.

Years before I went back for my doctorate, I bought a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikzsentmihalyi (Try saying that three times fast). It sat on my office bookshelf for a number of years and when I was between clients, I would browse these books, but this one never came off of the shelf.

During my doctoral studies, I took a course called Creativity, taught by Dr. Matthew Mitchell. Matt was one of the most inspiring instructors I have ever had and I took five of his offerings, giving me a specialization in Teacher Training and Curriculum. Setting this flow of consciousness aside a moment, one of many books required for Creativity was the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. It was such a great book, I wondered why I had not pulled it off of the shelf earlier, but perhaps, I would not have appreciated it as much as with Matt Mitchell being the guide on the journey. As I wrote this today, I am finding that Csikszentmihalyi was born in Fiume, Italy, which is now Rijeka, Croatia, but his parents were Hungarian.

What started this whole stream was an e-mail from Anna, our wonderful angel who has been repeatedly coming to our rescue. She sent some pictures of her children making snow people in their courtyard. Here are some of the cute photos that sent me on my stream of thoughts. 

At 6am, I woke this morning wondering about the history of snowmen, now called snowpeople to be politically correct. My groggy early morning theory was that children of earlier times did not have the luxury of making snowmen. They were forced into labor at an early age; therefore, not having time for the playfulness of today's youth. After my first cup of coffee, I did a Google search for the history of snowmen. Seek and ye shall find this snowman site. If you missed it, click on snowman in the last sentence to be redirected. Here I found the book The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein. I had to put it on my Amazon Wishlist. 

If you are really into snowmen, here is the link for the world's only online magazine dedicated to snowpeople called Today's Snowman.

Recapping, the photos Anna sent made me think of snowmen. Snowmen made me wonder about their history. Thinking about their history set me off on a search, leading me to the book and magazine of snowmen. All of this made me realize that it was all stream of consciousness, which reminded me of the book Flow, bringing my thoughts to the Hungarian/Italian or Croatian author who wrote it. Last, but not least, this led to thoughts of Matt Mitchell, who I truly admire.
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Friday, February 12, 2010

Field Trip


Last Saturday, Ron and I had a field trip for our photography class. We were all to meet at Kerepesi Cemetery; all included the six students and our instructor. The assignment was to capture the same photo twice using different aperature/shutter speed combinations so we could see differences. In order to appreciate this, I have to preface it with I DO NOT DO WINTER.

I could easily have been a bear in a previous life. If I could hibernate all winter, I would choose to do so. Going days indoors without stepping foot outside when the temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is nothing to me. Cabin fever is preferable to a chill. I react to snow on the ground like a vampire reacts to a crucifix. From a distant view, it is observable, but the closer it gets, the more the inhuman noises rise from the depths of my soul. I have to admit, the sole motivation for going to a snow covered cemetery on a cold February morning was the thought of how much we had paid for this course. It being only ten lessons, I had already missed one when I had the tooth infection, so frugality won over forcing me outdoors.

Before I go on, for those of you not in the know, Kerepesi is beyond being just a cemetery, moving into the realm of outdoor museum. Anyone interested in history or art will appreciate this expanse of land. Without going into too much detail about the history, which you can read here, let me say that I have included a walking tour of it in my new Frommer's 8th edition. We put it on our list of top things to see and do in Budapest and merits a visit during each of the four seasons. As the seasons change, so does the perspective of this final resting place. We generally visit at least twice a year. History buffs will appreciate this "Find a Grave" link here.

Once I had acclimated to the idea, the weather, and the snow, we had one and a half hours to explore on our own, shoot what appealed to us and then meet back at the front gate. Our instructor found each of us at least twice to look over what we had done and offer suggestions. This proved not to be too difficult a task as only three of us showed. 

This coming Tuesday, we will "present" our best ten pictures for critique.

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Monday, February 08, 2010

The Big Drip


Once again, we revisit that seemingly never ending saga of the bathroom drama. Spanning about as long as many soap operas, this leak has been causing a problem for over two years, fifteen plumbers, six housing association inspectors, and irate neighbors. When it had started to leak through our hallway wall, I really anticipated that the problem would be found in the smaller bathroom, not the tub. 

Again, it was an issue with the neighbors downstairs, so Ron took over. We had the home owners association's plumber come yet again, but he would not do a thing unless we cut a hole in the glass block wall. It seems there is a little door in the middle of the tub in an inverted space. When we covered it with glass blocks, we were told it was a foot hold so women could bend over the tub by bracing their feet there and avoid sliding. Ron went to a bath store around the corner and they had workmen who would come out.

They removed a small portion of the glass and then removed a portion of the side of the tub, making it still usable, but delightfully unattractive. There are rotted pipes, which were originally cushioned with foam rubber that has deteriorated. What is left of the foam gets soaked with leaking water. Their solution was to take the tub out completely and replace it with a stall shower. This will give us room to move the washing machine under the window, thereby giving more room by the bidet. They mapped out a floor plan and it all seemed reasonable.

We went to their showroom, which is not around the corner, but in the 4th district, quite a distance away on the blue metro. They showed us the shower floor, had us choose doors, and they will replace the end wall with the glass blocks. We had to pick out floor tiles and wall tiles for inside the shower. We ordered enough floor tiles for the entire floor, but I am not sure if I want all of the walls in the same tiles I picked out for the shower. What really gets my goat is that no tile store seems to have an extensive selection. When I remodeled the bathrooms in CA, when I went to tile stores, I was overwhelmed with selections. Here, I feel like I am being held hostage at the choices and it is not just this one store. I have been to others, but I am spoiled by US variety. Then it came time to calculate costs of materials and labor... ONE MILLION, THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND, rounded off. That is without tiling the entire bathroom.

Anna comes to the rescue. Anna was a Hungarian Fulbright exchange teacher to the US. She exchanged places with Jennifer N. who we have become good friends with. As a result, we have seemed to absorb Anna into our lives. She is an angel and gracefully comes to our rescue at will. We had to call her a couple of times from the store, because my student translator was at work. She was so gracious, but later told us it was way too much and the tile guy who did our kitchen and hallway could do the work for much less. Then it became a hassle trying to schedule the arrival of the materials on March 8th with the workmen to do the plumbing, and then Sandor to do the tile, all the while not losing too many days of not being able to shower and getting it all done between guests coming and going. We are still working on this one, but Anna is convinced Sandor can do it all and honestly, we love his work, so that is find with us.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Humor for the Day


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Volunteering and Living in Kenya


I just came across this article through the "Linked In" network. This article received a tie for 3rd place for a writing contest for Ex-Pats. Regardless, it was a great article that I wish I had read before going.

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Catch the Tooth Fairy In th Act


Normally, I think twice about promoting commercial comments to my posts, but this one struck my funny bone. I checked out the demo picture, because, well quite honestly, I hate my picture being taken and anyone who has tried taking one of me sleeping now needs more than a tooth fairy. 
Anyway, the idea is kind of fun, but I did notice the tooth fairy only comes in one flavor, so if you are a child of color, you have to have that white fairy woman hanging over your head. Where is it written that the tooth fairy has to be a female?  Sexism and racism introduced to children early on, no wonder it takes so long to undo it all.

Steven has left a new comment on your post "Alvin the Chipmunk Meets the Tooth Fairy":
Catch the Tooth Fairy "in the act" for FREE at!
Just enter this code: "fairy-2010" after you've approved your photo.
Seeing is Believing.
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Tuesday, February 02, 2010



Janos, my private student had given me a few gifts for Christmas, a couple of them were books. One he chose stating he thought he remembered that I had said I liked fantasy literature. I cannot imagine saying that, since the last fantasy I have read was the first novel of the The Lord of the Rings, but never continued with the trilogy. That was decades ago. One of the books he gave me was called Replay by Ken Grimwood. I put off reading it until we returned from vacation, because I like leaving books behind when we travel. It is a way of sharing and it lightens the load at the same time. This being a gift, it could never be left behind or given away.

I just finished the book tonight. It was such an impressive piece of writing, there was this urgent need to know more about the author. This video review of the book was perfect.

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Don't Leave Me a Voice Mail


Today's humor is courtesy of Doghouse. The fact is, this is exactly what my mobile carrier makes me go through, but I think it is to help me waste my free minutes. I fooled them; I no longer check voice mail messages. Uh, perhaps because I don't have anyone to leave me a message to begin with. Yea and if you have not yet had laser eye surgery, you can click on the cartoon to enlarge it for reading.

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